New York City’s mayor said Saturday the city’s public school buildings will remain closed through the end of the year because of coronavirus concerns – but the governor later said no decision about the schools has been made.
Instead, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, decisions on how long to keep schools closed will made in coordination with all New York counties in the city’s metropolitan area – and maybe even with neighboring states New Jersey and Connecticut.
In response, mayoral spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein tweeted that the governor’s reaction “to us keeping schools closed is reminiscent of how he reacted when the mayor called for a shelter in place.”
“We were right then and we’re right now. Schools will remain closed, just like how we eventually – days later – moved to a shelter in place model,” Goldstein’s tweet reads.
The announcements on schools started Saturday morning, with de Blasio and city school officials saying the city’s public school buildings will be closed for the school year. Students will continue to receive remote instruction, according to the city Department of Education.
Students who have requested digital devices, but have yet to receive them, will get them by the end of the month, city officials said.
Governor contradicts the mayor
But later Saturday, Cuomo called the mayor’s announcement an “opinion,” and while Cuomo valued it, he said no final decision has been made.
“We’re going to do it in a coordinated sense with the other localities,” he said. “It makes no sense for one locality to take an action that’s not coordinated with the others.”
Ideally, Cuomo said, he also wants coordination with Connecticut and New Jersey, “so whatever we do, we do all at the same time.”
The mayor’s plan
De Blasio had laid out a five-point plan to help students in the nation’s largest school system:
• Complete deliveries of internet-enabled digital devices by the end of April. That will mean getting 240,000 more devices to children over the next few weeks.
• Expand the parental help line’s hours and technical support staffing.
• Launch new, free online activities and programs.
• Graduate students in their senior years, about 75,000 of them. De Blasio said a full plan will be out next week.
• Get ready to reopen in September, with provisions to combat learning loss and support mental health.
He said he made the decision Friday night after speaking with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease official.
On Twitter, de Blasio spokesman Wiley Norvell mentioned Fauci when responding to Cuomo’s comments.
“NYC’s Health Dept, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the teachers’ union, the principals union all agree with @NYCMayor’s decision to keep schools closed for the rest of the school year,” Norvell’s tweet reads. “The science, the health experts and the educators here are all in the same place on this.”
De Blasio encouraged people to consider September as the new era. Children are under trauma at this time, he said, and it’s best to not bring them back to school before then.
De Blasio said the new year will have to be the greatest in the city’s history.